Today Google converted the Local Business Center into Google Places. The new Google Places allows business owners access to new tools beyond what the Local Business Center offered. Google Place Pages have business listings that are now more complete. The business listings allow people to connect with other online information channels about the business from across the web including photos, reviews and essential facts, as well as real-time updates and coupon offerings. If you have already claimed your Google Place (Google Local listing), you also have the ability to include additional information such as hours, videos, product offerings and more.
From the Google Maps Blog:
"Google Places will continue to offer these same tools, but the new name will simplify the connection with Place Pages. This reflects our ongoing commitment to providing business owners with powerful yet easy-to-use tools."
With the transition, business owners gain access to new features that Google Places has rolled out.
- Service areas: You no longer will be limited to the exact location of your business. Many businesses serve an extended area outside of their physical address. You can now show which geographic areas you serve. Plus, if your business does not have a storefront you can make your address private.
- Advertise with Tags: Business owners (in select cities) can highlight their Google Places listing on Google.com and Google Maps with Tags for $25 per month. Currently Tags are available for businesses in Austin, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Houston and San Jose, CA. Tags are expected to be available in the coming weeks for Chicago, San Diego, Seattle, Boulder and San Francisco.
- Real Time Updates: Originally this feature was added in January, but is worth highlighting again. You can add a live update to your Google Places page promoting a sale, event, coupon, etc. Within minutes your Google Places Page can have a custom update for all your visitors to see.
- Business photo shoots: If you are located in one of the cities where the Google photographers are in, you can request a free photo shoot of the interior of your business for use within your Google Places Page.
- Customized QR codes: Businesses in the U.S. can download their businesses unique QR code (Quick Response bar code) directly from their Google Places dashboard page. The QR Code image can then be included within marketing materials such as business cards. Visitors can then scan the QR code with smartphones that have the proper software installed and be taken directly to the mobile version your businesses Google Place Page. If your business does utilize the QR codes, be sure to also take advantage of Google Place Page’s option for Mobile Coupons to work alongside them.
So, what are you waiting for? Grow your local presence! Contact your search marketing agency and begin optimizing your business' Google Places Page to its fullest potential.